Manuel Benson inspires champions Burnley to victory at Bristol City
A goal of Premier League quality from Manuel Benson set title-winners Burnley on course for a 2-1 Championship win over Bristol City at Ashton Gate.
The Belgian winger collected the ball on the right corner of the penalty area after 33 minutes and connected perfectly with a left-footed strike that bent the ball around Max O’Leary’s dive before finding the top corner of the net inside the far post.
City equalised on the hour, Tommy Conway shooting low past Bailey Peacock-Farrell from substitute Andi Weimann’s pass for his 12th goal of the season.
But within two minutes Burnley were back in front. An error by Alex Scott led to Scott Twine setting up substitute Jay Rodriguez to fire home from 12 yards.
City’s players and coaching staff formed a guard of honour to applaud Burnley onto the pitch. The visitors had the first effort on goal when Josh Cullen’s low shot was deflected just wide of the post after seven minutes.
The home side’s high press created a few anxious moments for Vincent Kompany’s men and goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell was almost robbed by Harry Cornick inside his own box after 11 minutes.
Cornick’s shot on the turn after 17 minutes went narrowly wide, but from then on, all the meaningful first-half action was in and around the home side’s penalty area.
Two minutes before Benson’s brilliant strike, Lyle Foster got in behind City’s back line only to drag his shot wide with only O’Leary to beat.
Foster had suffered a nasty blow in a clash of heads with defender Kal Naismith and was still feeling the effects when he was replaced by Rodriguez four minutes before the interval.
Former City midfielder Josh Brownhill shot wide from Benson’s pass and Twine brought another save from O’Leary as the home side lost some of their early zest.
But City were still in the game as the second half began and Sam Bell had a 50th-minute shot blocked as they began the second half in determined fashion.
Vitinho fired over for Burnley before City boss Nigel Pearson made a triple substitution after 56 minutes, sending on Joe Williams, Weimann and Mark Sykes, for Andy King, George Tanner and Cornick.
Two goals in quick succession, one for either side, led to the game becoming wide open. Weimann shot over when well placed to net City a second equaliser.
Weimann then thought he had levelled with a power header after 81 minutes, but referee David Webb had spotted a foul by a team-mate.
Zak Vyner and Sykes were off target in a frantic City finish that had the champions hanging on, but victory kept Burnley on target to top 100 points at the end of their fine season as they moved to 98.